Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The 68-year-old Jim Leyland said Monday he will step down as Tigers manager, though he will remain with the organization.
Mets manager Terry Collins is now the league’s oldest manager at 64 years old.
The Mets finished 74-88 this past season, yet Collins was given a two-year contract extension with a team option for 2016.
“In many ways, Terry had an outstanding year,” Sandy Alderson said at Citi Field discussing his decision to keep Collins. “The team never quit, continued to play hard, continued to play with the resources it had at hand and finish as well as we could.”
The Mets were 49-48 in games played after Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey pitched a double-header in Atlanta in June. The Mets later lost David Wright for seven weeks, as well as Bobby Parnell and eventually Harvey for the season. They also traded away Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
“A .500 record over the final 100 games is not going to get you into the playoffs, but it’s a base,” Alderson said. “And having the kind of season we want to have next year is not that unrealistic when you think about how the team played substantially over the last two-thirds of the season.”
Collins is hardly the best in-game strategist. He repeatedly makes questionable moves with his relief pitchers. He is very traditional in how he puts together a lineup. He’s going to get out coached in big spots.
However, according to some of his players and people very familiar with his day to day, he works well with the front office, he is tolerant of media appearances, he works at his relationship with reporters, he shows no favoritism and young players see him as a father-figure. The big difference, though, between his first stint as manager and today, is how he is bonding with veterans. I’m told he essentially enlisted Wright, Byrd and LaTroy Hawkins to be his eyes, ears and disciples in the clubhouse.
Byrd later told reporters he kept in contact with Collins long after being traded. Similarly, according to the Daily News, Carlos Beltran texted with Collins during a rough patch earlier this year, “offering private reassurances that he was a superb manager.”
In other words, despite being 64, and despite his in-game flaws, Collins looks like the definition of a modern baseball manager, someone who seemingly has more impact on the team before and after the game than during it. Of course, not every player responds to this type of leadership.
In the end, wins and losses will mostly come down to the talent on the roster, as managers have little impact on the standings. Hopefully, in keeping Collins, the plan is to find more talented players who also work well in his style of clubhouse, which may make Mock-GM’ing all the more difficult this winter.